Betty Duffy

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I Never Miss a Party or a Fight

And this Christmas has been heavy on both counts. My family becomes a party machine at Christmas. We have Christmas morning with Santa, Christmas at Grandma and Grandpas, Christmas with paternal extended family and maternal extended family, and my family of origin and husband's family of origin, and by the time I have orbited the cookie counter 500 times, it is a New Year and I've hardly said hello to the New Born Child.

I don't feel attached to all of these parties that have recurred annually since the beginning of time and I don't feel easily injured when the inevitable barbed arrows come my way. I like to be present, and when I send out a barbed arrow, I expect it to roll off other people without much ado. I have taken it for granted that when you're in a family, you deal with the inconvenience of other people, and you deal with the hurt of togetherness as economically as possible. Feel the burn and move on. But you are not allowed to throw in the towel. You are not allowed to quit fighting and trying to fit the pieces together, whether you like each other or not.

Today is the Feast Day of the Holy Family. Catholics celebrate Mary, Joseph, and the Baby Jesus by reading about the Presentation of the new born Child in the temple. Simeon sees the child and says, "Lord, now you let your servant go in peace. My own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people." Today is the first day in about ten that I have slowed down to pray deeply, and see the salvation which the Lord has prepared during this season, and that salvation has come in the shape of a family. This little unit of people goes out to perform the necessary obligations of parenthood and family life. And those who witness this coming and going, witness salvation.

I don't mean to imply that everyone who witnesses the seven Duffys storming their front porch will be duly edified. Far from it. It is, in fact, my husband and me who have done a little offending this year. We shot an arrow that we didn't realize was barbed until two days later when we were notified by proxy that we had committed injury. And now, I am struggling to ingratiate myself to this person and say, "I'm sorry I hurt you," when what I feel is, "If you weren't so damn easily hurt, everything would be fine."

At Mass this morning, Father Paul said that we are born into families, we die with our families, and in death we join our Heavenly family in eternity. We honor the Holy Family, because God designed the family as a means of our salvation. And salvation hurts. There are relationships in my family that seem hell-bent on humbling me in ways I never asked to be humbled.

The devil loves to see families divided. He loves it when we gossip about who's responsible for clogging the toilet, when the kitchen bitch complains about who's not pitching in, when we fight over the comfortable chair and bicker about who's going to change a diaper. I do not want to make any kind of apologies right now. I want to to say, "Your madness has made me mad." I want to fight back, now that I know I'm in a fight, and hell is happy. My husband received a bottle of "Scorned Woman" hot sauce in his stocking this year, with a picture of me on the label.

But mothers hate to see their children divided. My mom hates it when my siblings and I aren't getting along. I hate it when my children fight. And I can only imagine what the Mother of God must think when she sees us all spatting with one another. I can relate to the mothers who want peace among their children. I want to have a Holy family. I want to belong to the Holy Family. So I must be made holy by family.

In this case, feeling the burn does not mean licking my own wounds; it means licking someone else's. Yuck. But do it, and move on.


Sharon Kieffer Steele said...

Well said. I needed to read this right now. :)

Tu Agenda Musical said...

I loved your is a situation that happens around the world...

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2009!

I invite you to listen a special Christmas episode of my podcast “Levántate y Sal a Caminar…”

28 minutes of Christmas carols in many languages, meditations and more…

“Let's resolve this year to create a peaceful presence wherever we go…”

Jesus loves you.

Luisa Veyan S.
You can listen it in:

Word Queen said...

Well, I can relate. On the way home from visiting my in-laws my husband informed me of how we have recently unknowingly hurt his folks: enough that his usually anti-confrontational parents would take him aside to discuss it. Ouch! We still don't know how to start repairing. I appreciate the reminder that our families are here to sanctify us! If only it wasn't such a lot of painful work!

Betty Duffy said...
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